Halloween Party Playlist

October 11, 2012

Planning a Halloween Party and need some tunes? Here you go…enjoy!

Scarecrow/ Beck

 Ever since his thrilling 1994 debut with Mellow Gold, each new Beck album was a genuine pop cultural event, since it was never clear which direction he would follow. Kicking off his career as equal parts noise-prankster, indie folkster, alt-rocker, and ironic rapper, he’s gone to extremes, veering between garishly ironic party music to brooding heartbroken Baroque pop, and this unpredictability is a large part of his charm, since each album was distinct from the one before. That remains true with Guero, his eighth album (sixth if you don’t count 1994’s Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave, (which some don’t), but the surprising thing here is that it sounds for all the world like a good, straight-ahead, garden-variety Beck album, which is something he’d never delivered prior to this 2005 release. In many ways, Guero is deliberately designed as a classicist Beck album, a return to the sound and aesthetic of his 1996 masterwork, Odelay.-allmusic.com

Convinced of the Hex/ Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips wilder side is unleashed on Embryonic’s 18 tracks, and the band sounds more off-the-cuff than it has in years — some tracks are barely longer than snippets, others are rangy epics, and it all holds together so organically that listeners might wonder just how much these songs were edited. Musically, Embryonic is the least polite The Flaming Lipshave been in nearly two decades, mixing in-the-red drums, blobby, dubby bass, squelchy wah-wah guitars, and sparkling keyboards into a swirl of sounds that are strangely liquid and abrasive at the same time. Occasionally, the band uses noise in an almost ugly way, as on “Convinced of the Hex,” which scrapes eardrums with static and distortion before falling into a loose but driving Krautrock groove that adds to the song’s tribal pull (complete with growling and wailing in the background).-allmusic.com

The Ghost of You Lingers/ Spoon

Spoon works with their widest array of sounds yet. Everything from kotos to chamberlains to horns straight out of Motown are fair game on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but they’re used so deftly and judiciously that they never feel like window dressing. As on Gimme Fiction, the band maps out Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’s territory within the first three tracks. “Don’t Make Me a Target” is a sleek yet gritty prologue designed to draw listeners in like Fiction’s “The Beast and Dragon, Adored,” and its seductive pull only heightens the impact of “The Ghost of You Lingers.” All pounding pianos and fleeting, fragmented verses, the song initially feels like it’s all buildup and no release, but this insistent yet incomplete feeling is what makes it haunting and brilliant: its circling thoughts and echoes upon echoes feel like you’re chasing the song — or its subject — to no avail. Even if “The Ghost of You Lingers” almost perversely avoids hooks, “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”‘s homage to blue-eyed soul delivers them in abundance.-allmusic.com

They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!/ Sufjan Stevens

Stevens has done his research, with references to everyone from Abe Lincoln, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the ghost of Carl Sandburg to John Wayne Gacy — the latter provides one the song cycle’s most affecting moments. The lush (yet still distinctly lo-fi) indie pop melodies draw as much from classic rock as they do progressive folk. “Jacksonville,” with its four-chord banjo lurch, mines “Old Man”-era Neil Young, disco strings dance around “They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!,” while the rousing pre-finale “The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders” is pure Peanuts-infused Vince Guaraldi as filtered through the ambiguous kaleidoscope of Danielson Famile spiritualism. -allmusic.com

Bodysnatchers/ Radiohead

In Rainbows, as a title, implies a sense of comfort and delightfulness. Symbolically, rainbows are more likely to be associated with kittens and warm blankets than the grim and glum circumstances Radiohead is known for soundtracking. There’s a slight, if expected, twist at play. The band is more than familiar with the unpleasant moods associated with colors like red, green, and blue — all of which, of course, are colors within a rainbow — all of which are present, and even mentioned, during the album. On a couple levels, then, In Rainbows is not any less fitting as a Radiohead album title than “Myxomatosis” is as a Radiohead song title. Despite references to “going off the rails,” hitting “the bottom,” getting “picked over by the worms,” being “dead from the neck up,” and feeling “trapped” (twice), along with Radiohead Wordplay Deluxe Home Edition pieces like “comatose” and “nightmare” — in the same song! double score! — the one aspect of the album that becomes increasingly perceptible with each listen is how romantic it feels, albeit in the way that one might find the bioport scenes in David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ to be extremely hot and somewhat unsettling.-allmusic.com

Halloween/ Matt Pond PA

 Several Arrows Later, Matt Pond PA’s fifth album in five years, is another strong, emotionally charged, and melodically pleasing outing that just could be their best yet. It is packed with hooks, fine performances by the group, and tender and expressive vocals from Mr.Pond himself. The only thing it is lacking is the one or two songs that cause you to bolt upright in stunned appreciation; instead, the record flows past like a gentle river of melancholy and world-weary beauty. The songs have a subtle blend of styles (the classic chamber pop of ’60s bands like the Kinks and the Zombies, the poppy side of emo, the insistent and epic feel of early post-punk/alt-rock groups like the Cure and New Order, and the gentle indie rock of groups like Yo La Tengo and Red House Painters) with plenty of strings, pedal steel, vibes, and piano to cushion the ache of Matt Pond’s vocals and lyrics. Songs like the loping “Brooklyn Stars,” “Halloween,” “Several Arrows Later,” and “Devil in the Water” are Matt Pond PA at their finest, intimate yet somehow epic with a heart-on-sleeve approach that is tempered by the restraint of the music.-allmusic.com

Perhaps vampires is a bit strong but…/Arctic Monkeys

Breathless, hyperbolic praise was piled upon the Arctic Monkeys and their debut album, Whatever people say I am, that’s what I am not, an instant phenomenon without peer. Within the course of a year, the band rose from the ranks of an Internet phenomenon to the biggest band in the U.K., all on the strength of early demos circulated on the web as MP3s. Those demos built the band a rabid fan base before the Monkeys had released a record, even before they played more than a handful of gigs. In effect, the group performed a complete run around the industry, avoiding conventional routes toward stardom, which paid off in spades. When Whatever people say I am hit the streets in January 2006, it sold a gob-smacking 118,501 copies within its first week of release, which not only made it the fastest-selling U.K. debut ever, but sold more than the rest of the Top 20 combined — a remarkable achievement by any measure.-allmusic.com

Halloween/Dead Kennedys

The very concept of a “greatest hits” collection from San Francisco punk legends the Dead Kennedys’ fits right in with the group’s penchant for establishment parody, but the irony is that Manifesto’s 12-track Milking the Sacred Cow is the perfect primer for young punks in training and a satisfying shot of politically charged jet fuel for longtime fans. This CD provides a satisfying crack in the jaw, even if it’s missing fan favorites like “Terminal Preppie,” “Trust Your Mechanic,” and “Chemical Warfare.” Honor students should pick up Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, Frankenchrist and Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death, but those looking for a quick fix or a cheat will find no better teat to affix their snarl to than this.-allmusic.com

This is Halloween/ Marilyn Manson

Danny Elfman, who has scored many of Tim Burton’s imaginative films (Edward Scissorhands, his two Batman films, etc.), is a perfect musical partner for the somewhat macabre director, and never more so than here, where, in fact, Elfman gets not only to write the music but to play the part of the main character. The Nightmare Before Christmas is an animated movie musical about the abduction of Christmas by the denizens of Halloween land, and Elfman sings the part of Jack, the Pumpkin King. The score is in his usual lush but threatening style (Kurt Weill is his biggest influence), but the highlight is Elfman’s singing. Even in his rock band Oingo Boingo (now merely Boingo), Elfman doesn’t get to sing like this. Granted, the soundtrack album inevitably lacks the film’s outlandish visuals, but it tells the story on its own, and one is better able to appreciate Elfman’s outstanding performance.-allmusic.com

Lullaby/ The Cure

The Cure could be found in a mix of holding pattern and seemingly constant activity in 2011, with an irregular series of world-wide performances of the band’s first three albums and a slew of guest appearances and one-offs by Robert Smith on his own and with other performers standing in for either new or reissued albums. But there was also a one-off headlining performance at the Bestival in the U.K. that summer, resulting in the band’s first official live album since the Show and Paris releases of 1993. Feeling more like a souvenir than anything else, it’s above all a portrait of a band that has the knack of handling a career-spanning catalog down cold, something with both positive and negative sides to it. On the one hand, besides a thankfully clear mix that feels like a brisk soundboard recording, there’s the treat of hearing a then-unique quartet lineup of Smith, Simon Gallup and Jason Cooper matched with the then-recently returned Roger O’Donnell adding keyboards for the first time in some years.-allmusic.com

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WBER DJ David’s Goth Playlist

June 4, 2012

“There’s a lot of misconception over what Goth music is.  This is due in large part because there is also a Goth sub-culture, and many people that are part of it don’t necessarily listen to Goth music, but perhaps a related genre like EBM, Industrial, Future-pop, or Metal.  Goth tends to be slower, has it’s roots in the post punk scene of the late 1970s, and often times has dealing with depression as a central theme.”- DJ David

Prayers for Rain/ The Cure

Arguably the most extreme song on an extreme album, “Prayers for Rain” more than anything is the heart of Disintegration, an evocative, wounding portrayal of emotional desolation as gripping as any the Cure ever created. Indeed, in some ways it’s the flip side of “The Drowning Man” from Faith or the song that immediately follows “Prayers for Rain,” “The Same Deep Water as You.” There, where the overriding metaphors were being crushed in watery depths, here the absence of water becomes the chief image.- All Music Guide

Too Much 21st Century/ Bauhaus

It’s perhaps appropriate that Bauhaus’ first new studio album in 25 years is also, apparently and finally, the last. After following their 1998 reunion tour with a second in 2005 and after that eventually led to the band debuting a full range of new songs on the road, the signs for a possible new future seemed strong, but in a weird echo of the past the quartet once again disbanded before an album release. However, perhaps the best and most surprising thing about Go Away White is that it doesn’t resemble any other Bauhaus album — rather than trying to recapture the past, the four members sought to meet in the middle where they had ended up, at least in part.- All Music Guide

Love Will Tear Us Apart/ Joy Division

A chilling tale of love set adrift with an equally cool, precise accompaniment, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was the last single recorded by Joy Division, mere months before doomed front man Ian Curtis committed suicide in May 1980. It’s presumed — perhaps rather hastily — that the lyrics are autobiographical, an insight into Curtis’ fragmenting marriage and his growing relationship with a Belgian girl who followed the band. Whatever the nature of the material, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” functions as an insight into what made Joy Division the most unique band during the era of punk aggression and extremism. -All Music Guide

Tear You Apart/ She Wants Revenge

Los Angeles Joy Division -obsessed duo She Wants Revenge blend electronic beats with goth pop misery on their self-titled Geffen debut. DJs Justin Warfield andAdam “Adam 12” Bravin may have crafted the post-punk equivalent of XTC alter-egos Dukes of Stratosphear’s psychedelic rock tribute Chips from the Chocolate Fireball, but there is suspicion as to whether or not it was intentional.-All Music Guide

Temple of Love/ The Sisters of Mercy

One of England’s leading goth bands of the 1980s, the Sisters of Mercyplay a slow, gloomy, ponderous hybrid of metal and psychedelia, often incorporating dance beats; the one constant in the band’s career has been deep-voiced singer Andrew Eldritch. -All Music Guide

Rats/ Rasputina

Rasputina’s supernatural approach in making music is impressive, because it’s independent of the goth rock that came before the band and especially alone in the current mainstream. It’s practically primitive, but positively so. Cabin Fever, Rasputina’s third studio album, casts a dark dream-scape of lush string arrangements and grating cellos, and Melora Craeger’s sinister scowl is at its best.-All Music Guide

Metal/Gary Numan

The most popular of all the Gary Numanalbums is undeniably 1979’s The Pleasure Principle. The reasons are simple — there is not a single weak moment on the disc, it contains his sole U.S. (number one worldwide) hit, “Cars,” and new drummer Cedric Sharpley adds a whole new dimension with his powerful percussion work. The Pleasure Principle is also one of the first Gary Numan albums to feature true ensemble playing, especially heard within the airtight, killer groove of “Metal” (one of Numan’s all-time best tracks). – All Music Guide

Cuts you Up/ Peter Murphy

“Cuts You Up” ranks as both an unexpected American pop hit – doubtless few people who saw Murphy delivering personal exorcisms ten years earlier with Bauhaus’s “Stigmata Martyr” could have guessed this might happen – and a perfectly logical radio-friendly winner. The brighter, less storm-cloud-ridden visions of Murphy solo had already been clear to those following his career, and “Cuts You Up” manages the fine trick of translating that new spirit into a truly accessible way without once sounding pandering. Benefiting from a crisp, straightforward slice of shimmering eighties pop-rock arranging, topped off with Paul Statham’s simple but lovely synth-violin part, “Cuts You Up” starts off strong and doesn’t stop, Simon Rogers’ production being especially lovely on the sparkling, whooshing chorus.-All Music Guide

Spellbound/Siouxsie And The Banshees

The charging, acoustic guitar-led “Spellbound” was a pivotal single in Siouxsie and the Banshees’ career. After early, clangorous singles like “Hong Kong Garden” and “Metal Postcard,” personnel instability and a changing musical climate made Siouxsie and the Banshees seem kind of tired and beside the point. However, “Spellbound” leads off 1981’s revitalized Juju with a new, cleaner sounding and much more direct ? even poppy! ? melodic bent.  Kinetic, memorable and exciting, “Spellbound” gives notice that Siouxsie and the Banshees had outgrown their dreary post-punk past.-All Music Guide

Ghosts 28/ Nine Inch Nails

Roughly a year after Year Zero  — a year marked by lots of sniping with his record company first about their clueless promotion then devolving into a tirade about their general uselessness — Trent Reznor broke free of Interscope/Universal and became a free agent, releasing music where and when he wanted. To celebrate his freedom he released the four-part Ghosts, a clearinghouse of 36 instrumentals all created during the years he crafted Year Zero. It should come as no great surprise that Ghosts then plays like a sketchbook, a place whereReznor jotted down sounds and textures that flitted across his mind and then either took them no further, or decided to spin them into something entirely new for the full album.-All Music Guide

The Host Of Seraphim/ Dead Can Dance

Dead Can Dance combine elements of European folk music — particularly music from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance — with ambient pop and worldbeat flourishes. Their songs are of lost beauty, regret and sorrow, inspiration and nobility, and of the everlasting human goal of attaining a meaningful existence.-All Music Guide